Kath & Kim: articles

Look at me - I'm a ratings winner

You've got to admit: it's noyce, it's different, it's unusual. Two of the eternal verities of Australian television collapsed in flames on Thursday night: that Aussies won't watch Aussie sitcoms and that only geriatrics watch the ABC.

The program that demolished these pillars was the season finale of Kath and Kim, starring Jane Turner and Gina Riley as a desperate mother and daughter.

With 1.63 million viewers, Kath and Kim was the most watched show of the night among all age groups in the mainland capitals, easily beating Nine's 6pm news bulletin and Getaway.

More exciting for the ABC is that Kath and Kim was the most watched show with viewers under 40, who preferred it to the MTV Movie Awards on Ten and the crime thriller Third Watch on Nine.

Until now, the most watched Australian comedy shown on the ABC was The Games, which cracked 1.59 million viewers for one episode in 2000. The most watched Australian sitcom of all time is Hey Dad!, which lasted six years on Seven and peaked at 1.5 million in 1991.

Kath and Kim, a spin-off of a sketch that first appeared in Seven's failed skit show Big Girl's Blouse, was lucky to be made at all. It had been scheduled to begin production at the ABC in March last year, but was cancelled at the last minute, apparently by order of the then managing director, Jonathan Shier. It was rescued from the reject pile this year by the new director of television, Sandra Levy.

Ms Levy said yesterday: "We are thrilled with the results that Kath and Kim has achieved in its first series. The program's characters have been embraced by viewers and its wonderful language and sayings have already become part of the Australian vernacular."

By David Dale
July 6, 2002
The Sydney Morning Herald